July 12, 2008

National Aviation Hall of Fame to Recognize Four Aviation Pioneers


DAYTON -- Herbert D. Kelleher, the Southwest Airlines co-founder who retired this spring after 37 years at the carrier, is among four prominent aviation figures awaiting formal recognition by the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

He is to be inducted along with Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson, a retired Air Force colonel who excelled as a fighter pilot in World War II and Vietnam; aerobatics pilot Sean D. Tucker, who is to fly that same weekend in the Vectren Dayton Air Show, and the late William A. Moffett, credited with creating the infrastructure on which naval aviation was later established during World War II.

They will join 195 people previously inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

The hall's 47th annual enshrinement dinner and ceremony is scheduled the night of July 19 at the Dayton Convention Center. The nonprofit organization spends about $250,000 to put on the black- tie event, which its leadership describes as the "Oscar Night of Aviation." Tickets are $150 apiece.

Kelleher and business partner Rollin King started Southwest Airlines in 1971 with just three airplanes. Today, the Dallas-based airline operates more than 500 planes, offers more than 3,400 flights and has 34,000 employees systemwide. Kelleher stepped down in May as Southwest's chairman after its annual meeting of shareholders.

Anderson learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program in 1941. He served two terms with the 357th Fighter Group in Europe and was credited with 16 aerial victories while flying the P-51 Mustang.

He later worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a fighter test pilot and became the chief of fighter operations. He went on to oversee flight test operations at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and, in 1970, commanded the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying F- 105 Thunderchiefs on bombing runs against North Vietnam. He retired from active duty in 1972 and spent 12 years in test flight operations with McDonnell Douglas Corp.

Tucker, a familiar member of the air show circuit with his Team Oracle performing act, has been flying in air shows since 1976. He plans to fly his 400-horsepower, 1,200-pound Challenger II biplane at 24 locations this year alone. He has flown cropduster aircrafts and owned a helicopter aerial business. He has received numerous honors and was chosen by the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in 2003 as one of the 25 "Living Legends of Flight." Moffett graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1890. He received the Medal of Honor for his action in support of the landing at Veracruz, Mexico, in 1914 as commander of the cruiser Chester. During World War I, Moffett commanded the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and established an aviation training program. In 1921, the Navy created the Bureau of Aeronautics and put Moffett in charge. Under his supervision, naval aircraft tactics were developed and the first aircraft carriers were introduced. He died in 1933 when the airship Akron went down off the coast of New Jersey. A member of Moffett's family is to represent him at the enshrinement event. On July 18, the aviation hall sponsors its second annual Wings of Women event at the hall's location in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The event brings together female high school students with prominent women in aviation.

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